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Russia expels Polish journalist in tit-for-tat move

December 18, 2015

Russia on Friday expelled a Polish correspondent in a tit-for-tat move after a Russian journalist was kicked out by Warsaw.

The Russian foreign ministry decided to “revoke the accreditation of Waclaw Radziwinowicz of Gazeta Wyborcza,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her Facebook page.

“The reason is simple — this is done solely out of principle of reciprocity.”

Radziwinowicz has been the Polish paper’s Russia correspondent since 1997.

He said he was summoned to the ministry Friday where he was told that “there is a decision for me to leave within 30 days and was asked to return my accreditation.”

“From this moment I cannot work as a correspondent,” he told RIA Novosti news agency.

Radziwinowicz said he will consider filing a lawsuit and that he thought it was “strange” to punish a privately-owned newspaper for a measure taken against a state news agency.

In September, Radziwinowicz engaged in a heated debate with spokeswoman Zakharova during her weekly briefing over the legacy of a Soviet WWII-era general whose statue was removed by Polish authorities, sparking Moscow’s fury.

Last May he was also briefly detained while reporting from the Crimean peninsula following its annexation by Russia.

Poland in April revoked the residency permit of Leonid Sviridov, a Russian journalist with RIA Novosti, after rescinding his press accreditation in October 2014.

The internal security agency ABW suspected him of espionage, according to local media, and Warsaw’s prefect annulled the residency permit after a careful review of his classified file, Polish officials said at the time.

Sviridov has appealed the decision but wrote this week that he has been “sent out of Poland without a court decision,” calling the experience “horrible.”

“I had to leave Poland before the decision by the court,” he wrote on Facebook. “There was only an administrative ruling.”

Polish-Russian relations have been at a record low since Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula and Poland, along with some other eastern European countries, has become increasingly jittery.

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Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.